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Brazil police mull closing stadium over incidents

Bangkock Post, 2/1/2013
Brazilian police said Thursday they were considering temporarily closing a Porto Alegre arena where several people were injured following a crush during a Copa Libertadores match.

The security gate located near the pitch in the southern Brazilian city gave way late Wednesday when fans performed “an avalanche” to celebrate a goal by local team Gremio against Ecuadoran side Liga de Quito.

Seven people were lightly injured, including five who had to be hospitalized, and the game was suspended for six minutes.

“We may temporarily close” the Gremio arena, press reports quoted Kleber Rodrigues Goulart, head of the civilian police’s special operations battalion, as saying.

The incident occurred in a stand where there are no chairs, just concrete bleachers which make it possible for fans to rush to the pitch, simulating an avalanche, to celebrate goals by their home side.

Goulart said police felt the area should be filled with chairs.

“We cannot wait for a tragedy to corroborate our opinion,” he added.

Wednesday’s incident came four days after a nightclub fire caused by a long list of infractions in the southern city of Santa Maria raised questions about Brazil’s readiness to hold safe 2014 World Cup and 2016 summer Olympics.

The brand new Gremio stadium, which was inaugurated late last year, will not host any games of the Confederations Cup in June or the World Cup next year.

But the arena is to host a friendly match between Brazil and France in June.

The Brazilian Football Confederation said it was closely monitoring the situation “but with serenity, so as not to trigger panic.”

“We are more than ever going to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of fans,” its president said.

“We are dealing with an engineering issue. We have to correct it. We need 100 per cent safety and we are going to conduct a technical study,” said Eduardo Antonini, of the Gremio Empreendimentos firm, which liaised between the club and the company that built the stadium.

Meanwhile, a 22-year-old man was stabbed outside the Gremio arena late Wednesday during a a scuffle among fans soon after the game started, the GloboEsporte news site reported.

It said the victim was hospitalized but that his injuries are not life-threatening.

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